Super Self-Service: The Story of the Supermarket

Long before anyone ever heard of online shopping, there was the supermarket, and what is a supermarket, you ask? It’s very simple-It is a self-service shop that offers a wide variety of food, as well as household products and beverages.

The supermarket got its start due to a man by the name of Vincent Astor; He began to develop a concept of an expensive food market that would rely on large economies of scale. In 1915, Vincent founded Astor Market, at the corner of 95th and Broadway in Manhattan in New York City, and in effect, it has created an open-air mini-mall that sold meat, produce, fruit, and even flowers, but two years later, it failed to attract customers, even those from ten blocks away, so that very first supermarket closed.

In 1916, an entrepreneur by the name of Clarence Saunders developed the concept of a self-service grocery store, and with that, the Piggly Wiggly was born; The stores became a financial success, and then Saunders began offering franchises. The very first self-service grocery stores did not offer produce or even fresh meats, but in the 1920s, there came the development of combination stores that sell perishable items.

If history is right (and then again, it always is), then be it so, because the very first true United States supermarket by a man by the name of Michael J. Cullen began to open it’s doors on August 4th, 1930, inside a Jamaica, Queens garage in New York City. That store was called King Kullen, and it operated under the slogan, “Pile it high, Sell it low”; 17 King Kullen Stores had been in operation by the time of Cullen’s death in 1936.

Many decades later, the supermarket has and still continues to dominate the American business, even though it has been in competition in recent years with online retailers. Now, I bet that most of you foodies out there have been wondering as to how a supermarket actually works, and do you want to know something else? It is ever-so-very simple, I think: Supermarkets typically have isles for produce, meat, baked goods, and dairy. There are other shelves that would leave space in which would be reserved for packaged as well as canned goods, but not only that, they can also store non-food items such as pharmacy products, kitchenware, pet supplies, and household cleaners. Other supermarkets sell such other non-food items as DVDs, board games, sporting equipment (REALLY?!?), and of course, al-key-hol (where permitted)…

There is a whole lot more to cover about the history of the supermarket than what this here post has provided you with, so may I very well suggest that you visit Wikipedia and just look up “supermarket”!

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